Category Archives: Love/Faith/Grace

Are You On The Outside ~ looking in?

Outsider

Are you the one who walks into a social setting and can’t find anyone to talk to? It seems all the people there are engaged in enjoyable conversations, but they won’t let you into the discussion. What do you do? Get a drink of something (wine, or a soft drink) and stand against the wall hoping someone will come by you can talk to? Maybe this even happens to you at church. Is that why you tend to come in late so you can slip in unnoticed…because you feel you’d be unnoticed anyway.

I am not a social butterfly. I do much better with the written word than I do socializing with a group of people. I suppose that’s why I’m a writer and not a public speaker. However, I’ve gotten better with people and have discovered there’s a root to this in myself and in others who are even more introverted than I am. It’s fear of man. Some of us have been sorely mistreated by others, absolutely run over (figuratively). We’ve been cheated, lied to, stolen from, and even physically threatened and abused. If we’re in a state of acute anger about this…let me remind you, anger is a cousin to fear.

Fear is the opposite of faith. And so, for believers, faith is the antidote or cure for fear. In any isolating situation, we need to focus on faith.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ~ Romans 10:17 [KJV]

Several translations, including the NASB which is my favorite, say: and hearing by the word of Christ. Christians know the Word of God is powerful and can be and should be applied to everyday life There are many places to hear the Word of God. Just turn on any Christian television show or radio broadcast. Or go to that pesky church service, even if you have to sit way in the back at first.

In my opinion, the cure for almost anything is to follow the commandment Jesus gave us to walk in love.

37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 22: 37-40 [NASB]

What Jesus is talking about is agape love, or the God kind of love. This is the highest form of love and is sometimes translated as “charity”. We are to be kind and charitable to others and to ourselves. Who are we anyway, to be beating ourselves up with everything we did wrong, every mistake we made, every sin when God has forgiven us and remembers it no more? That self unforgiveness is really a manifestation of pride. We think: I’m so bad God might be able to forgive me because He’s God, after all. But it’s really unforgivable and so I can’t forgive myself. That’s actually funny, sadly funny.

Or, we tell ourselves, what they did to me was unforgivably horrid. How could they do that abhorrent thing? The real question is how could they not? We’re living in a lost and fallen world. Without the restraint of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they are able to commit real atrocities. Just turn on the news.

Whatever you did…whatever they did to you…let it all go and walk in love, kindness, and gentleness toward yourselves and others. This doesn’t mean you should be a doormat for the unrepentant, but you can forgive them and move on. You’ll be better for it. And maybe you won’t be so fearful and you’ll be able to come inside from the cold…even if it’s just a little bit at first. As you trust God’s grace, you’ll trust the God in you, and not be fearful of others.


Deep Emotional Pain ~ can create soul wounds

emotional-pain

Intense emotional pain often isolates us. In our society today , which demands an absence of paint and a totally unrealistic demand for ‘safe spaces’, we might not even want to admit our pain to others. Some respond with anger as a way of fending off pain they feel entitled not to have. Both of these responses isolate us from others.

I’m a seasoned citizen and at my ripe, and I hope, discerning age, I’ve met people who have had real emotional wounds inflicted on them by others. They’ve been sexually abused, which is akin to murder of the psyche, except the victim must go on living. They grew up in a home with an abusive alcoholic or drug addict who destroyed everything that was meaningful and good in the family. A parent, or parents abandoned them when they were young. They or a loved one was severely physically injured by the actions of another; or a loved one was murdered or committed suicide. These types of situations cause real, deep emotional pain and often result in lasting soul wounds…damage to the psyche. And, of course, there are other situations, just as emotionally devastating.

I’m talking here to people with real, obvious, deep emotional pain. It is plain to see the world is corrupted by sin. Even the nonreligious will admit this. Jesus said that we would have suffering int this life, in this world.

 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 [NASB]

Over the years, I’ve talked to folks who have had real, deep emotional pain inflicted upon them by others or by life situations. They’re pain is very real. The inciting incident was not imaginary. It did happen. Their family member was maimed or killed by a drunk driver. Their husband did cheat on them and remove all funds from their joint account before filing for divorce. Yes, the pain is very real. But, what I’ve learned is that way down at the bottom of it, shame is attached. People think: if I had been worthy I wouldn’t have been put up for adoption; there was something flawed about me that made him sexually abuse me and in fact he told me exactly that over-and-over.

This attached shame prevents the injured one from sharing with others, or even if they do share intellectually, on an emotional level they continue to condemn themselves. This self-condemnation is a killer. It binds people in heavy emotional chains. What is needed, in my humble opinion, is a total transformation of the mind away from condemnation. Self-condemnation and condemnation of others is a soul killer. No matter who you condemn, yourself or others, you’re destroying your own soul’s health and destroying joy.

As a Christian, I turn to some of the great Christian teachers when I feel a case of self-condemnation or condemnation of others coming on. And I do, and have had cases of self-condemnation or condemnation of others. Of course I have. I’m human. At those times, I click away on my TV remote until I land on a Christian show featuring the teachings of Joyce Meyers, T.D. Jakes, Paul Daughtery, and many others. I personally find a good word for healing there.

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What brought this article on was the passing, three weeks before Christmas, of my husband Joseph D. Chillemi. I, in my human limited mentality, thought this would be the worst Christmas ever. But the whisper of the spirit of Christmas, gently wrapped around me as if I were in swaddling clothes and kept me safe as a baby. It was Jesus,  coming to me as the baby Jesus, who I encountered…as hope, light, love. So, yes, I was in a state of deep soul searing pain, and yet, Christmas was all about love and joy for me. This year, I learned how the spirit of the Christmas season so often touches nonChristians. How is that possible I would experience this when in deep mourning? I have to chuckle here, because my God can do for His people two or more things at once. [a wee jest there] He invented multitasking.

And so, the Lord had me write this article about deep pain as a way to honor my husband.

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Joseph D. Chillemi; July 30, 1951 – December 8, 2016; husband, father, son, friend, social worker

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FAITH IS LIKE ~ walking on water

water

 

I can look back at a number of instances, since I’ve been saved (born again) and have come through a really bad circumstance, and go, “Yeah, that right there was God all right. Boy was that way cool! No mistaking that one. It was God.” But at the time it felt as if high water was beneath me. In fact, waves were crashing all around me. I trusted God, and He moved, and it was awesome. But at the time it was also very scary.

It was as if Jesus was saying, “Follow me in the midst. Walk with me. Take each step with me even if you don’t know where we’re going. Walk on the water.”

The Holy Spirit (Who I often think of as Jesus Unlimited On The Earth) knows where we are going, and all I have to do is follow. I have to fight and cast down my fear of the waves, and also of what might be under the waves and over the waves. I need to build up my faith in Him.

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Under The Waves

 

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Over The Waves

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the truth is, it would’ve been even scarier without God. The situation was a challenge and without God there might not have been a satisfactory or triumphant ending.  Trials and tribulations come and believers have to make choices. Will we trust in God and follow Him not knowing how and where He will lead us out of the situation? Or are we such control freaks we must be in charge, we must know the battle plan?

How many times do we have to lose a battle, or have a much less than victorious outcome to admit we are not the Commander-in-Chief that God is? The scary part is letting go of the wheel and letting God take over. This doesn’t mean we do nothing. We get still and listen. We pray through. We do what we feel prompted to do by the still small voice. We MUST learn to trust that inner witness.

When we do step out in faith and let God run the show, the outcome may not be what we desire, but it will come with peace. And we just might be amazed how many times the outcome is so much more and superior to we could have imagined. Many, many believers will attest to this.

 


Oy, Another Trial ~ and I’ve been acting like an over-tired baby

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I took a step outside my front door this morning with my trusty gal-pal Sophie, and these words sounded loud and clear inside my head: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I’m facing a particular trial at this time to which these words apply. Let’s see, it’s Thursday, and I’ve got Thursday’s trial. It seems to go that way, doesn’t it.

Anyway, I began to say those words of Scripture from Psalm 23 aloud as Sophie and I walked along, so she could do her business. I must’ve repeated them aloud 35 or so times. You see, I believe the Word of the Lord is powerful and does not return void. These were the “words” He gave me this morning and I wanted to verbally release them into the atmosphere of my life.

When Sophie and I returned to the house, I felt like maybe the Holy Spirit was suggesting I read Psalm 23. Then I did that funny thing Christians do. “What if it wasn’t the Spirit? What if it was just me?” And I had to laugh at how we are. In this case, even if I “missed it,” reading the psalm was a good thing. So, I opened my Bible.

green patures

 

And the next line hit me as something fresh. It was the Spirit prompting me to read it. He makes me lie down in green pastures. I’ve always seen that line as wonderful poetry emanating from the mind of God through David, lyrical in its beauty, bucolic.

This time I saw the strong arm of God. I’d never seen that before in this line. I had to take another look, and another. It actually says, he makes me lie down, makes me do it. I checked several translations and they all say, makes me. Has a parent or a highly respected dear friend ever said in a tone that brokered no argument, “Go lay down and rest!”? That’s the kind of makes me I saw in this line for the first time today. The Lord can spiritually hit believers right between the eyes and say, “Rest!”.

The Lord’s mind is so all encompassing it’s amazing (in the true sense of the word ‘amazing’), and he can be a bit sneaky too in His intimate relationship with his children, marvelously sneaky. Want to know what I’ve been studying this week? Well, I’ll tell you.

Resting in the finished work of Jesus. ~ The battle is the Lord’s, so let Him fight it.

Of course that implies I’ve been doing all the things God’s been leading me to do in the natural world. Having done all that, I’m to give the battle over to Him. He’s got a much longer arm than I’ve got.


GRACE, God’s Unmerited Favor by Charles Spurgeon ~ a review

Grace, God's Unmerited FavorI found myself without Wi-Fi or cable in a tiny house in Florida for two and a half weeks. Knowing I would be technologically starved (except for outings to McDonald’s or Wendy’s for free Wi-Fi), I decided to read several works I’d put off for years. GRACE, GOD’S UNMERITED FAVOR by Charles Spurgeon was one of them. To be honest, this work had always been a bit intimidating. After all, the author was a pastoral, evangelical, and theological giant of his era.

Having made the commitment to open the book, I was struck by the simplicity of Spurgeon’s writing. In Chapter 1, ‘The Covenant of Grace’, he writes:

This is all of it. Do you believe in Christ? Then God will work in you “to will and do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God will conquer your sin; God will sanctify you; God will save you: God will keep you: God will bring you to Himself. Rest in this covenant. Then moved by intense gratitude, go forward to serve your Lord with all your heart and soul and strength.

What could be plainer than this? What could be simpler language? And yet, I had been intimidated by the name Spurgeon for years and had put off opening the book.

He writes with eloquence. The passage ‘From Eternity Past’ is stunning. He talks about the time before the earth and stars, “that time before all time — when God dwelt alone.”

In this thin volume Spurgeon says he’s striving to give us the “natural and grammatical teaching” of Bible verses as they relate to the Covenant of Grace..

To me it was astonishing to find the words below because I’ve long believed freedom and liberty have their origin in the Bible. Here Spurgeon declares they are part of the Covenant of Grace.

There is no doctrine like it for putting a backbone into a man and making him feel that he is something better than to be trodden down like straw for the dunghill beneath a despot’s heel.

Spurgeon further points out it’s not any old grace. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter specifically stated, “We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.”

I can’t find fault with Spurgeon’s teaching on God’s rod of chastisement, though modern ‘grace teachers’ would certainly use contemporary language and nuance it in a much different manner. The doctrine of grace as presented by the author is not one of the license, which some critics fear comes with this teaching. Far from it. It is one whereby the believer’s heart cries out for a deeper relationship with a Holy God.   

 


PERILOUS SHADOWS ~ Not Your Mother’s Valentine Read, but grandma loved it

Often I’ve found that grandmothers have lived long enough, and through enough difficulty they have more forgiving attitude toward mere mortals and their issues, even when there are deep, dark secrets, most carefully hidden. These seasoned ladies have survived quite a bit of stuff, some of it was between a rock and a hard place.

Perilous Shadows

PERILOUS SHADOWS, set in the late 1940s, features Kiera Devane, a pioneer newspaper woman struggling to make it in a man’s world. Grandma and great-grandma recall how hard it was for career women back then. It was a glamorous era, but not all of the men were as gentlemanly as we might like to think. In fact, Kiera’s had it with men. She’s created a tough exterior and has just about given up on the opposite sex. She plans to spend her life alone with only the companionship of her Boxer Aggie.

When a cooed is found dead at the local radio station, Kiera scoops ace radio broadcaster Argus Nye, writing a newspaper story about a new lead in the case before his scheduled broadcast. Everyone warns Argus away from the ‘ice queen,’ but the two decide to team up and hunt the killer.

Mystery readers will love this story as a Valentine’s read. Argus is finally able to gain Kiera’s trust and takes her for a glamorous dinner at the fabled Garden City Hotel, where presidents, politicians, and Hollywood stars have dined. This classic whodunit has no end to twists and turns, and also possesses an unfolding love story.

EXCERPT:

From Chapter 3

Argus walked Kiera out of the diner and took her elbow as her heels tapped down the cement steps. Her suit was austere, yet somehow she made it sizzle. He shifted his eyes away so as not to be caught staring, but not before taking a second look. “I’ll walk you to your car.”

“No, that’s quite all right. I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time.”

“Still, lass, I don’t feel quite right.”

“This is the Tastee Diner parking lot. It’s well lit. What could happen?”

Argus rubbed his chin. “Oh all right, if you insist. I’ll say good night here.” He’d tried to be the gentleman, but she was skittish as a young filly.

“Trust me. I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself.”

Fighting against an uneasy feeling in his gut, Argus walked to his car on the other side of the lot. Since Ada’s death, he’d become overprotective toward women. Fishing in his pocket for his keys, he heard raised voices. One of them, Kiera’s.

“Leave me alone. You cheated on me.”

Argus dashed for Kiera’s car, thinking he recognized the male voice, yet he couldn’t quite place it.

“Give me another chance. You misunderstood. It meant nothing.” Paul Gregorski, sportscaster at the station, had a hold of Kiera’s arm.

A jolt like an electrical charge shot through Argus. “Let go of her if you know what’s good for you.”

Paul dropped the arm and turned to face Argus. “So, you bumped my show for your special report, and now you want my girl.”

“My relationship with Miss Devane is purely professional.” He would not allow the slightest insinuation.

Kiera squared her shoulders. “Look, Paul, I wish you well, but let’s let bygones be bygones.”

The sportscaster slanted his head toward Argus. “I don’t want to discuss this in front of him.”

“I’m not going anywhere unless Miss Devane asks me to leave.”

Kiera pivoted away from them and pulled her car keys out of her purse. “I don’t give a hoot what either of you do. I’m going home.” She slid behind the wheel of the Pontiac, backed out of her spot, and gunned it out of the lot.

Argus watched her signal light flash a right. She made the turn and her taillights disappeared into the twilight. He laughed aloud.

Paul growled. “What’s so funny?”

Argus shook his head and walked to his DeSoto, got in, and put the key in the ignition, but didn’t turn it on. She’d never be mistaken for a Carmelite nun. Not in a million years. Blunt, not soft and feminine like his Ada had been. And where’d Kiera get that short Betty Boop hair-do? Not his style at all. No Sir. Where Ada was a sensitive and godly woman, this one was so hardboiled he couldn’t imagine her on her knees praying. So, why was she so captivating?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon/Kindle. http://amzn.to/13WXqdM

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/1euVanJ

NikePix

AUTHOR BIO:

Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. Her new contemporary novel, HARMFUL INTENT, is scheduled to release in the spring of 2014.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). https://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

Roses, red

 


Heroes For A Day

My huband Joseph and I adopted three half-sisters from foster care 7 years ago. They had been horribly abused. Abject pedophiles had access to them…two men, from what we can tell. One, due to our efforts was sentenced to ten years in prison.

The two oldest girls were the sexually abused ones. The little one was physically abused and went hungry a lot, but was not sexually abused. And she’s the one of the three who’s making it.

The oldest is in Manhattan somewhere. She phones now and then. She’s selling her body in the sex trade and pedling drugs on the side.

The middle one just took off with some guy she met on Facebook. She’s left a few phone messages. We don’t have a clue where she is. She’s been gone five days, going into the sixth day.

Funny thing is, I wrote a manuscript four years ago about a girl who is found murdered not far from where we live by a man she met online. I’d been getting it ready for submission when my daughter ran off. Life can mirror fiction, just as fiction can mirror life.

I’ve been very affected by the 9/11 anniversary this year. I’ve played a number of the songs from the Concert For New York City — in 2001 just after the terrorist attack.

I find myself playing David Bowie’s Heroes, from that concert. It resonates with me in my own personal hell. I want to swim like the dolphins swim. I want to be free like the dolphins, and yet I am chained to the computer combing Facebook, looking for anyone who might know where my daughter is.

My husband and I were heroes for a day, adopting them, having dreams for them…and then the evil of the world consumed them again…swallowed them.

I write of this evil in my Christian crime fiction novels…for which I’m seeking a publisher. I tell stories of  the evil consuming children, devouring them while so many of us are playing at church. We’re so pioulsy polite, and the enemy, the destroyer is glad we are…as we’re largely ineffectual against him.

We’re afraid to touch the girl in the sex trade and if we won’t touch her, how can we give her a hand up and out? We don’t understand when she rejects us and the wonderful Christian life we offer…and runs back to hell. And it’s hell on earth. It’s all too easy for us to heap judgement upon her.

The old addage, hate the sin/love the sinner, is all too true. We must hate the life she’s run back to, and yet somehow try to communicate to her how worthwhile she is.

To see the David Bowie music video…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xdo5f_ozf6E


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